Community Convo: Ray Thompson on Try for 5!

Ray Thompson talks about visiting primary school students in remote towns to encourage and celebrate their successes in the Try for 5! intra-school challenge promoting improved school attendance.

We travelled over 2,000 kilometers and visited 7 schools in northern Queensland to inspire regular school attendance and healthy resilient young people. Here's what I got up to:

Stop 1: Yarrabah
As we arrived at Yarrabah State School, the Year 3 students were in reading groups. We joined in with them for the morning, and then challenged some of the kids to a game of ping pong during the break! We were lucky enough to celebrate the Prep class winning their Try for 5! attendance challenge for the fortnight, and shared lunch with the top attender's in Year 3-6, all achieving over 90% attendance! The teachers at Yarrabah, like all teachers, work extremely hard for their students, so I was really pleased to be able to present each of them with a new Try for 5! shirt before we had to head off, ready for a big day two!

Stop 2: Lockhart
When we arrived in Lockhart River, we headed straight to Lockhart State School where they were at parade. I had a quick chat with everyone there about the work I do at the Cowboys, including talking about Try for 5! and NRL Cowboys House. After that, we spent time with the preppies and went to lunch – on the beach! We visited the Year 4, 5 and 6 classes to talk about the big transition from primary school into boarding school and the importance of practicing good habits, such as good school attendance and wearing the right uniform, to help them when they move to boarding school.

Stop 3: Cooktown
We got to Cooktown State School and spent the morning with 70 kids, chatting about the importance of coming to school each day, respecting each other, the environment and most importantly, respecting yourself. We spent the afternoon at Endeavour Catholic College and Holy Spirit State School to chat with them more about The Resilience Project, and what the program can look like for their school and community. I'm really looking forward to seeing this program in schools across this region!

Stop 4: Rossville, Bloomfield, Lakeland
Thursday was a big day as we went to three different communities and traveled over 180km's during the day! Each community has schools with small populations, which means we got to spend time with the whole school in each town. I really enjoyed joining in on the activities at each school, especially the close game of touch football at Bloomfield! But our visits aren't all about playing games, so I made sure I spent time at each school having a chat with students about different ways to show respect, healthy eating, career pathways (we can't be a footballer forever!) and we also met one of the girls who has applied to join us at NRL Cowboys House next year in the Girls Campus!

Stop 5: Hope Vale
We spent the morning in Ms Bowen's class, my good mate Matty's mum! We joined in as she taught the students in Year 5 traditional language! Like yesterday, we were lucky to meet two girls who have applied to come down to the House, it's great to see these girls valuing their education and looking to the future!

After a big week visiting so many communities, when the plane touched down in Townsville, I was exhausted!

Ray Thompson, Cowboys Community Engagement and Programs Officer
Ray engages with school communities across North Queensland in his role with the Cowboys, sharing messages as part of the Try for 5! school attendance program. The program motivates and rewards individual classes and schools for improving their attendance record. About: www.cowboysfoundation.org.au/programs/try-for-5/